Advice for Local Authorities about Community Sponsorship

This resource is aimed at Local Authorities who receive requests from Community Sponsorship Groups for consent to resettle a refugee family in their neighbourhood.

Reset are able to offer advice and support to Local Authorities who are exploring how to give consent to Community Sponsorship Groups; as it is a programme in its infancy, we recognise that many Local Authorities will be looking at this for the first time and creating a method of providing consent.  We can provide advice and guidance on how others have approached providing consent and help you to explore how you can provide consent in your own Local Authority.

What is a Local Authority committing to do?

  • Agreeing that refugees can be resettled via a Community Sponsorship Group in the area
  • Confirming that they are comfortable with the Group’s approach to resettling refugees
  • Will be invited to confirm that the accommodation provided by the Group for the family adhere to housing standards
  • Introducing the Community Sponsorship Group to the Local Authority Safeguarding Team to give them an opportunity to review the Group’s Safeguarding Policy should they wish to do so
  • Will be invited to attend the pre-approval meeting with the Group and the Home Office
  • Will be invited to attend 3 x monitoring visits/updates with the Group, Refugee family and the Home Office
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Key things to know:

  • When giving consent, both two-tier Local Authorities must provide written consent for the Group to apply for Community Sponsorship.  The Home Office won’t consider an application in these areas without these in place
  • Groups are encouraged to contact their Local Authorities as soon as possible in their planning process in order to develop relationships and access services that are available in the area
  • Local Authorities will have to approve the refugee family allocated to the Community Sponsorship Group
  • Local Authorities will be invited to join a pre-approval visit with the Group and the Home Office and subsequent monitoring visits
  • Local Authorities are able to claim costs from the Home Office relating to the resettlement of refugees through Community Sponsorship, details are available on the Reset training website
  • To receive approval from the Home Office, all Community Sponsorship Groups must attend compulsory training with Reset.  This training covers cultural awareness, adopting an empowerment approach, setting boundaries in resettlement, managing expectations and ongoing support.  In addition, Reset provide advice and support throughout the entire Community Sponsorship journey
  • Groups are able to apply for ‘approval in principle’ from the Home Office.  This is where the Groups fulfil all criteria in the application except for finding the accommodation or raising the £9,000 required.  Due to the length of time it takes to consider an application, we have seen the process sped up for Groups who have everything in place prior to securing housing
  • Groups are responsible for providing 12 months of support to a refugee family, and 24 months of housing.  Groups are encouraged to find sustainable housing; which the refugee families are able to afford after the support of the Group ends.  This is not always possible, and some Groups provide a housing top-up payment.  
  • Your local neighbourhood policing team will be asked to confirm that there is no reason why the accommodation found should not be suitable for a refugee family to live in.
  • Refugees arriving through Community Sponsorship do not need to arrive via chartered flights and alongside cohorts of refugees within a region; they can arrive at any time.
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What does consent mean?

The Home Office are asking Local Authorities to give consent for the Group to resettle a refugee in their community; and you will need to be comfortable that the Group has fully considered this.  You don’t need to check their application form or approve this, that is the responsibility of the Home Office. But you might wish to meet in person, discuss their approach and any issues relating to living in the area, introducing the Group to useful services and other organisations of whom they need to be aware.

Local Authorities will need to provide written confirmation of their consent.  If a Group is applying for approval in principle, it may be that you provide a letter committing to give consent subject to certain conditions such as checking the accommodation or assurance that funding is in place.  The Home Office will not consider an application received without relevant Local Authority consent in place.

There may be assurances you wish to seek from the Group and the Home Office when providing your consent and you could detail these in your letter of consent.

The letter of consent can be given directly to the Group to submit alongside their application form and supporting documents.

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Why is consent needed?

Receiving Local Authority consent to welcome refugees is essential for any Community Sponsorship Group.  In the unlikely event of a Community Sponsorship breakdown, it will be the role of the Local Authority to step in and take the responsibility for resettling a refugee family.  Whilst they would be funded to do this through the Home Office, it will take time, effort and planning to manage this situation so that it did not disrupt the integration of the refugee family.  

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What have other Local Authorities done?

As every Local Authority works differently, there are many models of what has worked. 

  • Unitary Authorities have met with a Group, seen their application and provided consent which has been the responsibility of the Resettlement Team
  • District Authorities have had to receive approval via their Executive Boards, which does take more time and requires the Group to provide information prior to meetings for a written report
  • Dual Local Authorities have worked together to agree how they will provide consent, with one following the lead of the other
  • CEOs in County Councils have been the ones to provide consent, after the proposal to carry out Community Sponsorship has been explored by others.
  • In Local Authority areas where resettlement is not already taking place, Groups have been asked to assure and guide the Local Authority through how the refugee family they welcome will be able to integrate into their new community
  • Rural Local Authorities may be concerned about social isolation and lack of integration in the area.  We have found that the refugees welcomed into rural areas have integrated well, and whilst travel, access to ESOL classes and access to culturally appropriate shops is a challenge, Community Sponsorship Groups in these areas have the skill, experience and creativity to address them.
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What help can Reset offer to Local Authorities?

We can provide anonymised template letters from Local Authorities on request so that you can see what others have done  
Connect you with other Local Authorities who have resettled families through Community Sponsorship in their area  
Advise you on what funding is available for you when a Community Sponsorship Group resettles refugees  
Answer any questions about the scheme, the process, and requirements  

Reset provides advice to Community Sponsorship Groups regarding approching their Local Authority/Authorities, and you can see this on our Training website

If your Local Authority is exploring how to provide consent for Community Sponsorship, please contact us. We will be happy to help you explore this.